Airports Council International (ACI) has released preliminary world airport traffic rankings for 2015 showing healthy growth in total and international passengers (+6.1% and +6.3%, respectively).
Results include double-digit growth rates at major Middle Eastern and Asian hubs serving long haul routes in emerging markets. With the continued rise in per-capita income and liberalization of air transport across these markets, ACI notes that this trend is likely to continue.
Based on reports from 1,144 airports worldwide, the top spot continues to belong to Atlanta-Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL). Passenger traffic at Atlanta climbed 5% from the previous year to a record 101.5 million. As well as benefitting from its strategic location as a major connecting hub and port of entry into North America, Atlanta was also boosted by the efficiency gains of its major operator, Delta Air Lines, which has continued to make inroads into the U.S. domestic market.
While second-placed Beijing (PEK) was poised to close the gap on ATL by 2015, it no longer benefits from the double-digit growth it enjoyed in previous years. The combination of a Chinese slowdown and capacity constraints has meant lower growth levels at the airport. PEK grew by 4.4% in total passenger traffic. At the same time, Shanghai (PVG), the second-largest airport for throughput in China, grew by 16.3% in 2015. With an added runway and increased slot capacity, PVG was the fastest growing airport among the world’s top 20.
Moving from the sixth busiest airport in 2014 to the third position in 2015 is Dubai (DXB). Total passenger traffic at the airport grew by 10.7% in 2015. The airport is also the world’s busiest in terms of international passengers ahead of London-Heathrow (LHR). Dubai has become the fulcrum that connects long-haul international flights from east and west, north and south.
Chicago O’Hare (ORD) moved up to become the fourth-ranked airport in 2015 from seventh position in 2014, with growth last year of 9.8%. After years of congestion, the airport is reaping the benefits of runway expansions and other capacity developments.
The world’s largest air cargo hub continues to be Hong Kong (HKG, +0.4%). Memphis (MEM, +0.8%) is in the second spot followed by PVG (+2.9%). Despite apparent pockets of weakness in the air cargo markets, ORD experienced robust growth of 15.6% in 2015. Doha (DOH), a major Middle Eastern airport and one of the fastest growing airports in the world, entered the top 20 given a jump of 46% in air cargo volumes in 2015.
ATL (+1.6%) has become the world’s busiest airport for aircraft movements following a drop in movements at the second ranked ORD (-0.8%) in 2015. PVG had the highest growth in movements at 11.5% in 2015.